PRINCETON, Ky. (KT) — Six speakers implored church staffs and laypeople to emerge from their comfort zones and be serious about telling people about Jesus.
Speaking at Southside Baptist Church to one of the larger crowds in the 33-year history of the Western Kentucky Evangelism Conference, all six focused on getting the Gospel to Every Home, an initiative embraced by churches in the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
--Kenny Rager, evangelism strategist for the KBC, encouraged people to check their spiritual temperature toward evangelism.
He preached from Matthew 9:9-13, and gave three diagnostic questions for people to ask that would determine if one was cold or on fire about reaching people with the gospel.
He asked, “Do you see the sinner while missing the Savior?” The text referred to the religious leaders who were so focused on the table of sinners, they missed Jesus. He said it is easy for pastors to get weary and depressed about the culture, but they should “not forget that, as long as Christ is on the throne, there is hope for lost people — no matter how desperate things are.”
He then asked, “Do you know the scriptures, but not their significance?” Focusing on verse 12, he asked, “Is your heart in it?” In Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees, Rager said Christians can quote the Great Commission and Acts 1:8, they can have much head knowledge, but it may not be in their hearts. “Your head knowledge and methods and research don’t do it if you don’t tell people about Jesus. If you don’t go out and do evangelism, you may be spiritually constipated.”
Rager than asked, “Are you sitting on the sidelines when you need to be with the Savior?” Rager urged Christians “to go to the lost,” and posed the issue of spending time with lost people. “We have to go to them. Jesus was a man of action, but the colder we get (spiritually), we get more frozen. What’s the cure of getting out of a frozen shell? We need to get closer to Jesus. If you get close to Jesus, you’ll get closer to lost people.”
--Tim Beougher, pastor of West Broadway Baptist Church and professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, preached from Acts 4, emphasized that people need to be intentional when it comes to evangelism. He quoted a seminary professor who said, “Doing evangelism in the local church is like fishing in your bathtub — it’s terribly convenient but you’re not going to find many fish there.”
His message focused on Acts 4 and the persecution that arose when Peter and John healed a lame beggar. Beougher talked about the arrest of the two disciples by the political and religious leaders of that day, thinking they could stop the spread of the gospel.
Next came the interrogation and inquisition — these two disciples finding themselves in the same hall and before the same people who had condemned Jesus. In verse 8, Peter responded, anointed with power from on high. Beougher said this was a fulfillment of Matthew 10 when Jesus told them not to worry about what they would speak because the Holy Spirit would provide. But Beougher cautioned that this promise “is for the hour of persecution, not proclamation.” he noted, “When the day comes when I am arrested for my Christian faith, I am going to sleep like a baby in that prison cell. I won’t worry what I am going to say the next day because in that day it will be given to you.”
Beougher observed that God allowed one sermon to stop what was being preached in public so another sermon could begin behind closed doors to people who would never have listened to the sermon. Peter boldly told those leaders they needed to be saved — and that there is only one way, by putting their faith in the One they had crucified.
“We take the light of the gospel to people because it is good news,” Beougher said. “If someone is disturbed by the gospel message, I hope they are disturbed enough by it they will recognize their need, repent of their sins and turn to Christ. If you know Christ, share Him with others. Let’s make it hard to go to hell in Kentucky.”
--Kara Blackard, a Mississippi evangelist, preached on the church side of evangelism in the morning session and the individual side in the evening session.
“Your community is full of lost people waiting for someone to tell them (the gospel),” he said.
“Our churches ought to be a place where God is praised and His holy name exalted. The early church had the power of God to the extent that nobody could ignore Him. God wants you to have a good time when you go to the house of God.”
He gave words of encouragement for door-to-door evangelism, “When you go knock on that door, God is with you.”
--Todd Gray, executive director-treasurer of the KBC, recalled the conservative resurgence, then added, “My conviction is we don’t need another conservative resurgence, we need an evangelism resurgence.
“If you want to see an evangelism resurgence — it doesn’t start with our SBC leaders. It has to start with us, when we take personal responsibility to take the gospel to people who are away from God,” Gray said.
“Make soul winning your passion,” Gray advised as he preached from 1 Corinthians 3. “Paul was concerned with people going to hell, so he persuaded men. It was a love for people which constrained Paul to share the gospel.”
Gray reminded the crowd that Paul went to Macedonia — not to dig a well, not to build a house, not to take them medicine to prevent disease — but because they were lost. “We must take the gospel. That’s what the church has that nobody else has.”
Gray said brand-new Christians come into the faith with a passion for souls. “When you are born again, you get concerned about other people.”
He said the first element needed is to have a priority for soul winning. “We’re easily distracted. Throughout Acts, Paul, after he was saved, went into the synagogue preaching Jesus to lost people. Trying to win people to the Lord was a practice in Paul’s life.”
Paul’s passion was also seen in his preaching. “Endure affliction, do the work of an evangelist, make soul winning a priority,” Gray said. “If evangelism is not at the top of your list, it won’t even make your list.
“Paul Chitwood reminds us about155,000 people die every day, most are without the gospel.
“What is you priority? Let other people answer the question. They would look at your life and know what is important to you. People we hang around are going to set the priority of our life.”
Also, “make soul winning a partnership. If want to see evangelism resurgence, make soul winning a partnership.
"The greatest partnership for Paul was his partnership with God. Paul brings his obedience, but look at what God does. God gave the increase. God made the seed grow. God gives results. God gives rest to the laborers.”
Gray recounted when Harold Skaggs pastored Oak Grove Baptist Church, and Ft. Campbell was set for its first deployment.
Skaggs had revival scheduled but because of the deployment, much of the church would be gone gone. There was consideration of canceling a scheduled revival. The deacons met to consider that possibility, but one man — Ed Hancock — said the revival should not be canceled. He said, “These men about to go off to harm’s way, some won’t return home, some will die without Christ. This is not time to cancel, it’s time to have the best revival we can.”
The result — 56 professions of faith that week. “We need more men like Ed Hancock,” Gray said. “We do our part, share the gospel, God does His part, God gives the increase. I want to see the day when Southern Baptists are known for trying to win our neighbors to faith in Jesus Christ. It will happen if every one of us will make soul winning a priority in our life.”
--Hershael York, pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church and dean of theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, preached from Luke 18 about the gospel being a comfort for the oppressed and the oppressor.
He spoke on Jesus’ encounter with a blind beggar as Jesus entered Jericho, and referenced Ecclesiastes 4:1, which talks about oppression.
Luke tells us Jesus came to save the oppressed. “Who is more at the lower rung of society than this blind beggar? He’s desperate — not much else he can do.”
Jesus asks what the beggar wants Jesus to do. The man could do only one thing — beg for money. “All he has ever done is ask people for their money. Jesus says count the cost for what you are going to ask.”
He responds to Jesus as Lord, asking to recover his sight.
"Who can be saved? Those who have faith. In an instant, the blind beggar immediately recovers his sight. He followed Jesus," York said. "The one thing he wanted was to go wherever Jesus went. He now has sight and insight — he seeks to follow Jesus. That was the salvation that was accepted by the oppressed."
Jesus goes on into Jericho where he encounters Zacceus. Ecclesiastes points to not just the oppressed, but to the oppressors.
Zacceus was everything the Jewish people hated — chief tax collector and rich. He was hated, but he desired to see Jesus. His short stature and the hatred of the people toward him were his obstacles, so he climbed a tree.
“Everything in this story tells us he is desperate. Jesus calls him by name, Jesus displays costly love, takes time to save a collaborator like Zacceus. No one expects a Jewish rabbi to do this. The same crowd that praised God for lifting the oppressed from his begging now murmurs about Jesus daring to go to house of a tax collector.
“Have you ever gotten mad about the grace of God? Someone you looked down your nose at, but God blesses them with salvation?” York asked. “The adulation of the crowd turns to disapproval.”
Zacceus reaction is a clear statement of genuine repentance, York said. He volunteers to give half of his goods to poor and to pay back fourfold anyone he has cheated. “Jesus didn’t make that demand. Salvation came to that house that day. Jesus brought it. When Jesus brings salvation, it shows. You cannot stay the same.
“Jesus came to save anyone who is desperate and anyone who is willing. All around us are people we tend to put in one category or another. Jesus makes no distinction about their work or about what they deserve. He has not called us to make value judgments about who deserves to hear the gospel. Whether they are down and out or up and out, He has called us to share the gospel indiscriminately. You have no idea when you share the gospel the way God will use that — whether they are the oppressed or oppressor. The gospel is the power of God to salvation. God called us to go in the name of Jesus and tell the good news.”
--Don Mathis, long-time Kentucky Baptist pastor and evangelist, said God asks us to join together to share the gospel in every home in Kentucky. “What if 10% of those gospel messages find lodging in the heart of the recipient homes, that would be 169,103 homes that the gospel has been responded to, or 422,757 people; if just 1% respond, that’s 16,910 homes, or 42,275 people.”
Mathis told that the Elkhorn Baptist Association in 1799 had 31 churches, and how dry those churches were. In 1801, there were 36 churches that recorded 3,033 baptisms. “From less than one person per church, in two years, almost every church was averaging more than 100 people being saved,” Mathis noted.
“Has God lost His power? Can God send an awakening to Kentucky again? Maybe, God will use it (Gospel to Every Home) to bring an awakening. Nobody in my life today has ever seen an awakening in Kentucky. Why not now?”
Preaching from Matthew 9:36-38 and referring to the three parables in Luke 15, Mathis calls attention to the emphasis on needs. Jesus saw every one of the multitude individually, and He was moved with compassion. “Jesus really cares,” Mathis said.
A secular psychologist said, “Everyone walks around with a guilt complex.” Mathis added, “You know why you have a guilt complex? Because you are guilty! The Bible calls it sin. You are not compared to your neighbor or co-worker, you are compared to Jesus, and we don’t stand up well.
“The worst news is the wages of sin is death. Without Jesus, all die and go to hell. The same verse says the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. With righteousness of Jesus, you don’t have to walk around feeling guilty. He is faithful to cleanse us from all our sins.”
He noted, “Everybody is afraid to die. God didn’t make you that way. When it comes your day to die, if you know Jesus, He will be with you. Where are people going to hear the answer to the death problem? How are those out there going to know that Jesus is the answer to the guilt problem, to the death problem? He is the only answer, the only answer you will ever need. The only way is if we take the gospel out there. If all we do is gather together and have our conferences and worship services, then shame on us.”